Saturday, June 28, 2008

Vor really does mean 'Thief'

I watched Eastern Promises on DVD last night. Here are some of my thoughts:
a) Damn, Viggo Mortensen.
b) How much vodka do I have left in the freezer? Better get some more.
c) Cronenberg got the leather jackets spot on.
d) I wonder if compass star tattoos will become the new Maori sleeve as a result of this film?
e) This is the greatest male nude wrestling scene EVAH!
f) Has anyone else noticed that Cronenberg and Mortensen look like father and son? They are the spit of each other.
g) The make up girl in the corner is totally checking out Viggo as he gets his tats applied for a scene. Proper order.
h) Damn, Viggo Mortensen.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Gynoid, not Android

"My name is Divine Endurance. I am feminine. I am twenty-five small units high at the shoulder, and sixty-two small units long from nose to tail tip. I am independent and it is therefore the more flattering when I respond to affection. I am graceful, agile, and especially good at killing things prettily."

I bought Divine Endurance by Gwyneth Jones in my very early teens, essentially because the protagonist was a talking cat. I lucked out, DE is one of sleeper classics of 80s fantasy, one of the first to really get to grips with changing sexual politics of the late 20th century. It confused the hell out of me by having Cho, the young girl travelling with Divine Endurance, initiate a sexual relationship with a bandit/revolutionary leader Anakmati who is also the Royal Lady Derveet. 'How can you have sex with a woman?' I wondered, in all innocence. [True Story from my schooldays from around the same period. On my way to the lunch hall I'm cornered by the Mean Kids. Them: "Are you a Lesbian? Do you know what a lesbian is?" Me: "Yes, they're people from the island of Lesbos, in Greece. Sappho was one." In the hindsight it's no wonder I had no friends].

Divine Endurance is set in that favorite dystopia of the 80s, the post-apocalyptic world. But it looks east instead of west, most of the action takes place in Thailand. It's hard now to understand just how strange that was, most fantasy one way or another still referenced Tolkein, with occidental, nordic perspective. The dominant ethics are Buddhist, the symbolism is Hindu. Fertile women are in purdah, but the politics are gynocentric. At its heart the book is about the power of Eros, both in a sexual sense and in its original Greek sense as the generative force of the universe, simultaneously destroying and creating. There's no happy ending, but it's an absolutely superb story.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


I'm having a great time listening to Ian's 'Best of 2007' CD and a collection of Luke Haines that he sent in the mail. Toptastic.

If you were a small dog Ian, I'd leave you all my money.

The cartoon above is by Tomi Ungerer, who illustrated Jeff Brown's 'Flat Stanley'. It amuses me that TU's personal work is so twisted. I will read 'Flat Stanley' with new eyes.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Incomparable Mme CKS or What I Will be Doing on my Summer Holidays

One of the irritating things about being an academic is that when summer rolls around you find a lot of people say things like "So, you've got the summer off then?".

And the answer is "No, I will be working bloody hard earning my tenure."

But if I learnt one thing last year it was that you have to make some proper holiday time for yourself where you can leave your home and work offices, not check your email, and avoid your family.

So I'm going to Halifax to visit Queenie in August. People keep telling me that Halifax is a great town, the Dublin of Canada. I'm looking forward to a week of cafe's, vintage clothes stores, gossip, drink, music and maybe even dancing.

I'm so excited I've already got my holiday reading sorted out. I will be bringing Mmm. Chiang Kai-shek's biography and a pulp novel about the Soongs. I'm fascinated by Mme. and her sisters. I'm beginning to consider her something of a role model: intelligent, beautiful, rapacious, and she wears great shoes. Look at the photo. There she is at the Cairo summit in 1943, wearing peep-toes with huge bows. That's style. Shame about the husband, though.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Secret (Sexy?) History of the Mullet

Ah, the mullet, that famous object of derision. Subject of many a joke and a special issue of Grand Royal (#2 if you must know). Long despised haircut of footballers. Known as the VORKUHILA in Germany. Quintessentially a late 70's style that has refused, despite the ridicule, to die.

Or is it? It turns out that the mullet has a long pedigree. In ancient Rome senators wore purple-bordered togas, married women wore a stola, and catamites wore mullets. Or at least that is the conclusion drawn by J. Pollini, in his article ‘Slave boys for sexual and religious service: images of pleasure and devotion’, in Boyle, A. J. and Dominik, W. J. (2003) (eds) Flavian Rome. Culture, Image, Text. Leiden, Boston. Pollini analysed the distinctive 'business in front, pleasure in back' style and concluded that it invariably appears in the context of 1) homosexual scenes between freeborn and slave men/youths
2) the ancient equivalent of altar boys (who may also have been pressed into service in category 1).
So the next time you see someone wearing a mullet you might want to point this out. Or you may want to keep your internal organs in a non-leaky condition, in which case it's probably better to just walk on by.

Sunday, June 08, 2008


It's been very tough. I've been going through a lot and with work and all I just couldn't blog. I'm really, really sorry.